Germany is very proud of its traditions and is, therefore, celebrating one much-loved aspect of its culture throughout 2018. This year’s theme of ‘Culinary Germany’ will throw the spotlight on regional and national dishes with a series of festivals, exhibitions and other events that showcase seasonal produce and local delicacies.
We all know about the flavourful wursts that differ from town to town, but there is so much more to German cuisine than these delicious sausages. Here are seven regional foods to look out for during your holiday to Germany this year.
Popular in northern, maritime regions of Germany, such as Lower Saxony, labskaus is also known as sailor’s stew. It is the perfect hearty meal for someone at sea and a great solution to the problem of keeping food fresh. Made from cured beef, beetroot, potatoes and onions, it lasts for a long time and can be prepared from readily available ingredients. Although born from humble beginnings, upscale restaurants have started giving labskaus a modern makeover and fine-dining twist.
Frankfurt's Green Sauce
The city of Frankfurt is famous for many culinary delights, the iconic frankfurter being one of the most well-known. Another of these is a popular green sauce that’s made from seven different herbs including chives, parsley and chervil – all of which come pre-packaged in Frankfurt supermarkets so that locals can easily make the sauce at home. It’s traditionally served over boiled potatoes and hard-boiled eggs and is eaten from Maundy Thursday until the ‘first frost of autumn’ every year. Every May, the Green Sauce Festival takes place, featuring music and a competition to find the best sauce in the land.
As a big part of summer life in Germany’s Saarland region, the word schwenker has three different meanings. Firstly, it refers to marinated pork steaks that are cooked on a BBQ. Secondly, a schwenker is the grill on which these steaks are cooked and, thirdly, the cook themselves is known as a schwenker when standing at the helm of the BBQ. These family get-togethers take place frequently during the warmer months, whilst visitors to the area can taste a schwenker steak at events such as the Emmes festival in Saarlouis.
Swabia is a region that stretches across the states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. Its beloved maultaschen, or Swabian ravioli, has earned regional speciality status from the EU, meaning that it can only be authentically produced in this part of Germany. These pasta squares filled with minced meat, onions and breadcrumbs are thought to have been created by the monks of the Maulbronn Monastery when they refused to go without meat for Lent. Due to the nature of hiding the meat within the pasta, the dish also has a name meaning 'Fool the Lord'.
From the state of Hesse, Handkäs cheese literally means ‘hand cheese’ – a name that refers to the way it was traditionally hand-shaped and kneaded. Although it has a slightly unpleasant smell, the cheese is low in fat and high in protein, making it a popular health food. Eaten a lot in Frankfurt, it is often served alongside the local Apfelwein and is accompanied by a marinade of vinegar, oil, chopped onions and caraway seeds known as ‘music’. This term is thought to refer to the chiming sound that the bottles of oil and vinegar served with the Handkäs make when they come into contact with each other.
The Neunerlei Feast
Christmas may be a long time away, but if you are planning a festive trip to the Ore Mountains (or Erzgebirge) then you may get to enjoy the nine-course extravaganza known as the Neunerlei. Traditionally served on Christmas Eve, in a plate with nine different sections, each element represents something different. From meat that celebrates happiness and strength to dumplings which are said to bring prosperity (unless you serve an odd number), the details of the actual components can differ from family to family but are always along the same lines.
We’re ending on a sweet note. Baumkuchen literally means ‘tree cake’ and it is a speciality eaten in the Altmark region (between Hamburg and Berlin). Using a standard cake mix, Baumkuchen is traditionally cooked on a spit. Each layer of batter is slathered on once the previous one is cooked until around 20 different layers have been created. Then, a final layer of chocolate is added to give it a delicious finish. The end result is a cylindrical cake similar to the chimney cakes of Eastern Europe that, when sliced, looks like the rings of a tree.
If you would like to taste any of these German culinary delights, we can help you plan your holiday in 2018. From city breaks to beer festivals and Christmas markets, we can tailor-make your trip however you like. Call us on 0800 988 3369 and you could be sampling some of the tasty treats above in no time.